Many designers realize that materials are an important aspect of the design; but how many go that extra mile to educate themselves on the materials process to improve how they design?
As much as it hurts me to admit it, I was one of those designers (not that long ago,) who got so wrapped up in the functional aesthetics of the design, that I would forget to look to materials to seek the innovation that I was looking for. Many times, I would find myself at a loss in terms of materials, not only had I left it to the last minute, but I hadn’t really thought to ask anyone.
I am here to make the case for materials. I strongly believe that if more designers reached out the for the expertise of material designers earlier in their design process, they would find new ways to innovate and complete their design stories.
Consider this: in recent times, materials are where much of the innovation takes place. Think fly-wire, fly-knit, no sew leather, color shift finishes, etc. These innovations are not limited to soft goods: carbon fiber, pigment laser technology, gorilla glass, innovations have allowed for self reinforced thermoplastics (seen in luggage) , high strength concrete, and more.
Materials are a major part of the story and are vital in finishing the story. Luxury, sport, or technicality is best expressed through materials, and the design should encompass that fact.
Take footwear for example, what makes a shoe comfortable? Yes, the design and how the shoe fits the foot is a crucial part of the comfortability, but the fold of the fabric, how the material feels against your skin, how it wicks liquid, how it holds the structure of a shoe- that is what completes the story of your design.
Another important point to address is how material developments have made sustainable design not only possible, but accessible to designers all across the board. The most important lesson I have learned in sustainability is that it takes place in materials, and also the material and design developing processes. But that is another blog entry in itself.
I recently learned the importance of material and how it can impact your design firsthand. Stay tuned for my post about my experience at the FN| Platform and my project that focused on materials!